One of the things that comes with the territory when you’re a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers is hearing from Steve Smith. Like it or not (more often than not) Smitty is going to call you out for your mistakes, bury you under his experience, and walk the puddle dry.
Now it’s Baker Mayfield’s turn, and Smith didn’t hold back. Echoing a lot of the same criticism Zach Wilson is facing in New York, Smith pointed out that Mayfield doesn’t accept responsibility for his own poor play — while taking credit when things go right. Speaking to Kyle Bailey of WFNZ in Charlotte, Smith went off on how Mayfield speaks about the game, and his failure to make plays when they’re available.
“Why is he saying “I” when he prepares, but in the lack of execution he’s saying “we didn’t execute”? I’m trying to calm myself down, but this three-legged donkey that’s playing quarterback ... it’s tough. Lemme tell you it’s tough to watch. Especially when the other team got a four-legged thoroughbred. Watching him play quarterback ... there is no possible way any team that’s looking for a foundational quarterback sign Baker Mayfield.”
Make no mistake: He showed his work too. Smith said he watched the All-22 of the Panthers game against the Ravens on Sunday and cited one play in which Mayfield stayed locked onto his No. 1 receiver D.J. Moore, who was covered for the entire play, and didn’t ever see No. 3 Shi Smith, who had lost his man and was wide open for an easy catch — which Mayfield never ever saw.
This is all on-brand for Smith. He is an extremely passionate player, even in retirement — and quarterbacks who played with him routinely got an earful. Jake Delhomme got yelled at, Cam Newton was cussed out on multiple occasions — with Smith always telling them what they missed, or what they needed to do better. However, he respected the hell out of Delhomme and Newton because they took accountability and understood that when it comes to team success the buck ends with the QB. So to perceive Mayfield as blaming everyone but himself, while quarterback is the biggest reason Carolina is losing games — that was beyond the pale for Smith.
Is it a little harsh? Sure ... but Steve Smith is a harsh dude. He always will be.
One thing is for certain: The Mayfield experiment in Carolina has been an absolute disaster. He’s been functionally worse for the Panthers that Sam Darnold was a year ago, and the only saving grace is that losing games helps the team as this point, so they can tank as much as possible and get a top QB in the draft.